Alibaba introduces solid-state lidar delivery truck
【Summary】Chinese companies Alibaba and Robosense team up to build a solid-state, unmanned delivery truck. The robot’s technology is an appealing alternative to traditional, mechanical lidar.
Delivery robots aren't unheard of – visit a big city, and you might see one cruising the sidewalks. Chinese company Alibaba claims its G Plus truck is different, though. And they may be right since it's the first delivery bot to use solid-state light detection and ranging (lidar).
There's quite a bit of buzz around lidar these days, yet, surprisingly, few vehicles have it. The only production car to use lidar is the 2019 Audi A8, and the technology on that sedan is mechanical.
In fact, most lidar uses this mechanical multi-beam radar design. So far, these traditional units have proven to be large and costly. Alibaba's G Plus, on the other hand, relies on solid-state technology. The small, road-going truck navigates using three lidar sets (two up front and one in the rear) from Chinese company Robosense. The setup uses microelectromechanical (MEMs) mirrors to steer a laser beam. Unlike mechanical designs, only a few laser emitters and receivers are needed with this layout.
Robosense says in its press release, "RS-LiDAR-M1Pre MEMS micro mirror scanning scheme requires only a few laser emitters and receivers to scan the MEMS micro-mirror in both directions because of the swing angle. Resolution is a very fine, high and vertical angle resolution of 0.2° throughout angle of view."
According to the company, solid-state lidar gives the autonomous truck a "powerful 3D perception for driving." Plus, the vehicle can be mass produced, aiding in the proliferation of unmanned delivery vehicles.
"The LiDAR is an indispensable sensor for advanced autonomous driving above L3, and on this, industry has reached a consensus. The solid-state laser has the advantages of high stability, high resolution, and low cost, and it can well meet the demand for OEMs," said Mark Qiu, Co-founder of RoboSense.
Will your pizza eventually be delivered by a solid-state lidar delivery bot? Maybe, but that's a ways off. For now, we can ogle Alibaba's futuristic-looking, unmanned truck.
Sources: IEEE Spectrum and PR Newswire
Mia is an ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician, L1, L2 and L3 Advanced Level Specialist. She has over 12 years of experience in the automotive industry and a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology. These skills have been applied toward content writing, technical writing, inspections, consulting, automotive software engineering.
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